The May 10, 2011 edition of The Joint Commission’s (TJC) “Standards FAQ Details” focuses on Human Resource standards applicable to contracted and volunteer personnel. These are subjects that frequently cause confusion for some organizations and can become areas of focus on survey. A careful read of the entry reveals an additional risk point for consideration in TJC survey preparation—pet therapy! The “Details” describe volunteers as being subject to HR standards, ”when [they] perform patient care or services….” Clearly, pet therapy volunteers provide services that fall under this wide umbrella.
Yet, some organizations may not be fully attuned to these requirements, particularly the 8 items of information that must be verified and recorded for each volunteer. Among the 8 items, points 3,4,5,6, and 7 are the most relevant to volunteers involved in care, particularly pet therapy. The requirements include verification of such qualifications as education/competency, health status, orientation to the organization, and completion of a criminal background checks.
Accreditation, human resource and volunteer leaders should be aware of these standards and their applicability to pet therapy volunteers. Failure to adequately address these requirements may lead to negative findings on survey.